Whist

Whist[1], which at the time was a popular game, was played over the winter months, typically starting in late September and ending in early April. The firm ran a team on at least two different occasions.

Like the Air Rifle League, a Loughborough and District League was established, starting in the 1910/11 season. Prior to the formation of the league, friendly matches were played between various teams; there is no evidence that a team representing the firm took part.

The initial league had a single division comprising of three works’ teams – The Nottingham Manufacturing Company (2 teams) and Messenger & Co.; three church teams – St. Mary’s, St. Peter’s and Congregational; one political team – the Liberal Club; one club team – the Constitutional; one school team – the Adult School[2]. The league was taken seriously, with both honorary and elected officers, together with an executive committee.

The following year, the league was increased from ten to fourteen with the addition of teams from the Trinity Institute, Territorial’s, the Church Institute, together with a second Constitutional Club team[3].

For the inaugural season, Mr. Samuel Bernard Frost of Forest Field, Forest Road, president of the league, offered a silver cup to be won outright, which was won by the Constitutional Club. For the second year and, presumably subsequent years, Mr. Smith-Carrington, the local Unionist candidate, offered a silver challenge cup, which was again won by the Constitutional Club, with 42 points, having played having played 26 games, winning 20, drawing 2 and losing 4[4].

By 1914-15 season, the leagues had expanded to 16, with the firm’s team finishing fourth on 36 points, having played thirty games, winning twenty, losing nine, drawing one, and accumulating 4,151 tricks for and 3,660 against. The league title was won by the Liberal Club[5].

The league subsequently then divided into two divisions with the firm’s team in Division 1[6] when the team included F. Armstrong, senior, F. Armstrong, junior, J. Cripps, C. Downs, J. Harvey, H. Hopewell, A, Hutchinson, D. Jones, H. Mee, E. Seagrave, A. Smith, H. Strait, W. Straw, H. Sylvester, H. Wheway and H. Wilson.

It appears that the firm’s team withdrew from the league during the second half of World War One, not returning until the 1929-30 season, when they were admitted to division 2. During the previous year, there were 18 clubs playing in 2 divisions. The exact number of teams varied from year to year. At the beginning of the 1929-30 season, one team had resigned and two others were doubtful. However, two new teams had been admitted, the firm’s team presumably being one and two further teams, one from the Brush and a second Labour Club team had applied to join.

During the early 1930s there were two divisions of the Loughborough and District League, with between ten and twelve teams in division 1 and ten to eleven in division 2. The two divisions were typically composed of other works teams such as Cotton’s Brush and the Nottingham Manufacturing Company (N.M.C.); church teams such as Trinity and St. Mary’s; club teams such as the Constitutional and British Legion. In addition, there was a separate ladies’ league, with thirteen teams[7].

In the early 1930s[8] the firm’s team had a nucleus of about twenty-five players:- F. Armstrong senior, F. Armstrong, jnr, H. Barker, H. Barsby, S. Bland, B. Bishop, C. Borman, J. Cripps, B. Cubberley, W, Harbridge, C. Hubbard, A. Hutchinson, G. Mitchell, J. Kinch, H. Mee, J. Onions, R. Partridge, T. Pervin, E. Priestley, J. Rose, E. Seagrave, B. Smith, H. Smith, H. Straw, J. Swann, E. Wheway, T. West and H. Wilson. Over half a dozen of the team had played for the firm when they were last in the league some fifteen years earlier.

In early March 1931[9], their second season back, the firm’s team was top of the second division with 87 points having played 15 matches, winning 68 games, losing 52, accumulating 2,059 points for and 1,970 against. They went on to win the division and promotion to division 1 with 107 points, having played 18 matches, accumulating 2,477 tricks for and 2,355 against[10].

At the end of the 1931-32 season, they finished ninth of twelve teams in division 1[11], having played 22 matches, accumulating 2,920 tricks for and 3,034 against. The league title was won by the Liberal Club’s ‘A’ team.

In the 1933-34 season, they again struggled, finishing fifteenth and next to bottom of division 1, which was won by the Brush Works team[12]. The firm’s team played 30 matches, winning 7, losing 13, drawing 10, accumulating 4,053 tricks for and 4,207 against.

The team having succumbed to relegation, won division 2 in 1935-36 season by two points from The Victory team, with the N.U.C. third. Division 1 was won by the Liberal Club, with Willowbrook runners up and the Brush Works third. The combined leagues consisted of 29 teams and 546 players. The following season several teams dropped out – British Legion, Messrs. Hall and Earl, Morris South Works B and West End Nomads with five new teams joined – Adult School ‘B’, Catholic Club ‘B’, The Glebe, The Jubilee and the Victory[13].

At the beginning of the 1936-7 season, E. Seagrave stood for the committee but was not elected. At the time, there will still two divisions, comprised of 28 teams and a total membership of 642. “District” had been dropped from the title and was now known as just the Loughborough Whist League[14].

The firm’s team managed to remain in Division 1, for the 1937-8 season, along with St. Peter’s, Bedfords, The Liberal Club, Brush, The Constitutional Club, Catholic “A”, Victory, Trinity, Willowbrook, Cotton’s. Morris South Works, Nottingham Manufacturing Co., and William Morris & Sons[15].

By the beginning of 1938[16], the firm’s team had changed with several new team members, although the core of the team was that playing in early 1930s with at least two who were playing over twenty years earlier. In late January, the team were heavily defeated 157-109 by St. Peter’s; with F. Armstrong & F. Armstrong, jnr losing 21-18; S. Bland and E. Brooks losing 21-5; S. Cripps and F. Stafford losing 21-20; W. Cubberley and E. Priestley losing 21-5, W. Hames and H. Parke winning 21-18; J. Herbert and S. Mitchell losing 21-15); H. Mee and J. Pervin winning 21-13); A Smith and G. Betts losing 21-4. At the time, they were mid-table, lying seventh of fourteen, on 20 points, having played 18 matches, winning 9, drawing 2, losing 8, accumulating 2,188 tricks for and 2,489 against. Two of the team, C. Downs and A. Smith, were leading the division 1 averages, having both played 15 matches, scoring 300 of a maximum 315 and averaging 20 per game[17].

At a corresponding time, the following year[18], they were languishing in thirteenth position, one from bottom with 13 points from 20 matches. They had only managed to win 3, drawing 7, losing 10, accumulating 2,551 tricks for and 2,716 against. Inevitably they finishing the season in the same position with 16 points, having played 26 matches, winning 3, drawing 10, losing 13, winning 3,326 tricks and losing 3,578[19].

During the1938-9 season the team included[20]: F. E. Armstrong, S. Betts, F. Birt, J. Bradshaw, C. Downs, E. Hollis, P. Housden, T. Matlock, H. Mee, A. Parke, H. Parkes, J. Pervin, A. Preston, T. Satterthwaite, A, Smith, J. Swann, H. West and H. Wise,

It appears that during World War Two the league might have been suspended. Instead, under the auspices of the league the team played in the Loughborough Hospital Challenge Cup. This was a knock out competition, where, in February 1940[21], they lost to the Catholic Club by 135 to 129 with a team comprising of A. Bramley, H. Barker, S. Betts, F. Birt, J. Chamberlain, J. Cripps, H. Hopewell, P. Housden, H. Mee, J. Pervin, A. Preston, T. Satterthwaite, E. Seagrave, A. Smith, E. Smithard and W. Webster.

Two years later, in February 1942, they were knocked out in the preliminary round, losing 74-54 to St. Peter’s[22].

The league was back in action for the 1946/7 season; still with two divisions, they were now referred to as “A” and “B”, with Messenger’s still in the top division with several other firm’s teams, including Willowbrook and Brush; two political clubs – The Liberal Club and The Conservative Club; two church teams – Trinity and St. Peter’s Church[23].

In 1950, the firm’s team was still in the top division of the two-division league (now reverted to Divisions’ “1” and “2”, with 16 teams in division 1 and 14 in the second division), playing on a Tuesday evening, against Bedfords, the Conservative Club, Cottons “A”, Cross Keys, Fearon, Foresters, Hathern, St. Peter’s, Trinity, Unity, Victory, Willowbrook (2 teams) and the Working Men’s Club (2 teams) [24].

During the 1952-3 season, the Loughborough Whist League had 3 divisions. The firm’s team finished bottom of Division 1 and were duly relegated, having won 5 of their eighteen matches, winning 2,096 tricks and losing 2,227. Interestingly the team one place above them, Morris Sports, who were also relegated, won fewer tricks (1,993) and lost more (2,249) than Messenger’s but won 6 of their matches. Hathern won the league with 15 wins and 2,285 tricks for and 2,038 against[25].

The following season (1953-4) did not start well for the team. By late November they had only won 1 of their 7 matches in Division 2 and were in 10th position, with just 2 points, one position off the bottom, having won 792 tricks and losing 887[26]. However, by the end of the season they had recovered and were almost mid-table finishing 7th with 20 points having won half of their matches, accumulating 2,406 tricks for and 2365 against. The division was won by Foresters, with White Hart finishing bottom[27].

During the 1955-6 season the league reverted to two divisions with 15 teams., including the firm’s, in Division 1 and 14 in Division 2. The final charts show the firm’s team finished 8th with 40 points having won 13 games with 3321 tricks for and 3250 against. The league was won by Cross Keys having won 2o matches finishing with 61½ points, 8½ points above 2nd place Hathern[28].

The following season the Loughborough District League was backup to three divisions with the firm’s team finishing runners up in Division 1 with 28 points; having played 16 matches, winning 9, losing 7, 1,925 tricks for and 1,917 against. Hathern finished top with 34 points winning 11 matches[29]. The league finished surprisingly early, at the beginning of February. This was followed by another competition, known as the “Charity Cup”, it comprised of a single league of 26 teams, taken from the earlier 3 division league. By mid-April the firm’s team was in 9th position having, along with all the other teams, played 9 matches[30]. Scoring was obviously different to the normal league system as they had won 34 and lost 29, with 34 points with one point being given for each win.


References:

  1. A trick-taking card game, for four players in two teams of two. The objective is to win more tricks than the opponents.
  2. The Loughborough Monitor and News, 19th January 1911.
  3. The Loughborough Monitor and News, 26th October 1911.
  4. The Nottingham Evening Post, 31st March 1911. The Nottingham Evening Post, 1st May 1912.
  5. The Loughborough Echo, 8th May 1914.
  6. The Loughborough Monitor and News, 2nd April 1916.
  7. The Nottingham Evening Post, 20th September 1928.
  8. The Loughborough Echo 6th March and 20th March1931; 15th January, 29th January and 19th February 1932.
  9. The Loughborough Echo 6th March 1931.
  10. The Loughborough Echo 20th March 1931.
  11. The Loughborough Echo, 8th March 1932.
  12. The Loughborough Echo, 27th April 1934.
  13. The Nottingham Evening Post, 2nd September 1936
  14. The Loughborough Echo, 27th August 1937.
  15. The Loughborough Echo, 27th August 1937. The reference to C. Grave is incorrect.
  16. The Loughborough Echo, 4th February 1938.
  17. The Loughborough Echo, 4th February 1938.
  18. The Loughborough Echo, 17th February 1939.
  19. The Loughborough Echo, 14th April 1939.
  20. The Loughborough Echo, 17th February 1939.
  21. The Loughborough Echo, 2nd February 1940.
  22. The Loughborough Echo, 13th February 1942.
  23. The Loughborough Echo, 14th February 1947.
  24. The Loughborough Echo, 3rd November 1950.
  25. The Loughborough Echo, 7th March 1952.
  26. The Loughborough Echo, 28th November 1952.
  27. The Loughborough Echo, 3rd April 1953.
  28. The Loughborough Echo, 11th May 1956.
  29. The Loughborough Echo, 8th February 1957.
  30. The Loughborough Echo, 12th April 1957.